Eventually, you’ll get tired of looking at all the crumpled paper cluttering what used to be your desk. Eventually, the coffee you made for yourself in your tiny room will run out, and you’ll get frustrated for no specific reason. Eventually, you’ll wonder what day it is, because you forgot to check your calendar and you just want an excuse to be lazy for a while. Either way, you’ll end up questioning the world and its choices—not that I’ve made any significantly better ones.
The family which lived here before were all-teeth smilers, high-heel-wearers, toddler-bearing gumdrop parents. I used to wish that I would have a life like that, like the pink tutu girl and her hair ribbons. But there are no more pink tutus in 307, Hawthorne Blvd. There are many plain walls and empty days that all start and end the same.
Once the stillness of a cramp settles over me, I usually walk it off, pace around my room, tap the window pane, maybe hoping someone will see me, and wave back. It’s not like that ever happens, but sometimes, living in your own fantasy world is better than facing the world outside the window.
The thing about life is this…you’re free to think, but you can’t think freely. Each thought is welcome to enter your mind, but it constrains you, limits you, angers you. Now that I think of it, being a human, living a life is a lot like that, full of weird parables nobody understands. And so are pandemics, in a way. Pandemics are harder to predict, though. I’ve blocked all the parables from the who-knows-where-it-came-from-probably-the-government-is-spying-on-me website anyways.
Of course, then they’re the times when the number of tissue paper boxes seizes your record-breaking amount of tried and inscribed papers littering your desk, and you have no choice but to grab the cane and shuffle for the trash can, hopefully getting there and back sooner than later. For someone who hates parables and pink tutus so much, I tend to philosophize during most of my downtime.
Sometimes my voice sounds worse than the scratchy record-player I keep in here for no definite reason. I yell at the radio for pleasure, but if you ask me, yelling during the covid cases data whatnot is more fulfilling, even if my voice does sound like a scratchy record player. Sometimes, writing a will is harder than dying,
Because you know you’re dying, and life is just being mean, having you write it out on a poster for everyone to read.
My grandma always blamed the curse. The curse of the time grandpop left the radiator running all week for the vacation they took and the ghost of the house started haunting the family forever. It’s a stupid curse. She was never good at telling stories, but maybe she just wanted something to blame everything on. It was easier than taking full responsibility anyways. I wish I could blame a real curse.
When I was younger, I told myself a story to keep myself from worrying about exams or speeches, or scary monsters underneath the bed. The world is so big, the universe infinite and expanding, so full of nebulas and galaxies and exoplanets—that I am literally less than a speck of dust compared to the universe, and one onstage speech wouldn’t be the end of the world.
It makes me wonder; did I really accomplish anything in my life? I spent lots of time in and out of hospitals, being their lab rat, being poked and prodded at with vaccines which never worked. I suggested a change of decor for the hospital’s front desk, though that didn’t go over well with the secretary.
I’m the kind of guy who looks at death and says eh, you need to shave. I’m the kind of guy who watches tv, but never directs anything; drinks protein shakes in hopes of getting better from an incurable disease, never bothering to learn much about the disease itself.
I wish I could blame it all on a curse. That should be the first line of the will of a guy who always complained. What good would a curse do—ask grandma. Words can say too little and too much at the same time…a little parable wisdom for you there. Even though I canceled the subscription at least twice, they still keep sending me emails. Is that a sign of some sort?
Covid-19. Coronavirus. Sars-something-something. Annoying pandemic. Pain in the #$%. It goes by many names, my death sentence.
My mother got covid-19 first. Back then, the kitchen wasn’t charred black, and she insisted on making every meal when she visited the area. Maybe that was because of my fast-food diet seven days a week, 365 days a year, but she insisted, always going out for ingredients and such. Nothing scared her, my mother. Not pandemics, not taxes, not death. It was me who was scared, holding her vein-protruding hands, watching the ventilator suck out her life.
Then it was my grandma. Then it was my father. Then it was my sister. Now, it’s me, but I don’t go so easy.
They can’t even use the ventilators on me. They can’t help me at all, only offer a death sentence because my lungs are so clogged I won’t realize the effects until I drop dead. I know they tried their hardest with my family. If I wasn’t so preoccupied with the will, I would write them a letter of appreciation. Wait—-that would be stupid.
At least I can marvel about the afterlife in the bittersweet comfort of my own home, counting down the days until I can see them again.
Stupid parables. Stupid pink tutus. I want to believe in them, I honestly do. I still have no idea what the day is, but I don’t want to check. Is it fear or is it bravery? The radio will be coming on soon. Time to gather up my scratchy fingernails-on-chalkboard voice; I think they’re covering the number of cases in the United States today.
In my room which I hardly ever leave, there isn’t much stuff. I crammed in a desk, a small mattress, a lamp, a whiteboard, and a few grocery bags. Most of the other rooms are locked, and the downstairs kitchen is a mess. I don’t remember how long it’s been since I’ve stepped outside, into the sinewy grass, the fresh air…
My only link to the outside world is a small square window, big enough that you can see outside, but smaller than the picture windows in the living room where I watch tv sometimes. When I’m bored, I watch the kids on the streets play basketball, maybe chuckle a bit at the raccoons which feast on open garbage cans.
Entertainment is short-lived for a dead man like everything else is, except when looking outside.
The kite came flapping along the sides of my house up against the window in the afternoon after I scratched off the beginning of my will and added it to the collection of dinged-up papers. The days were becoming something like a schedule.
The kite got stuck though, all flip-flopping and such, and the screams came later after I had checked my emails at least ten times. One news email, three parables. None of them marked as read.
Standing up, I had looked outside and seen three kids clustering around my house, wailing about their kite which had gotten stuck in the window ledge. For someone who was dying, I have a lot of ‘compassion’, though I’ll leave the superhero work for another day; but once the kite dropped out of the window, it had gotten stuck on my porch. Sighing, I grabbed my robe and creaked the door open.
I swear I saw the faint glimmer of a pink tutu when I stepped outside. The sunlight almost burned my eyes, but the feeling of grass slipping between my toes led me out onto the porch.
While handing back the kite, I realized the world had changed. A few trees were missing, flowers were dangling off of people’s rooftops. My hedges hadn’t been cleaned in who-knows-how-long. And I realized wanted to live.
Because the parables weren’t always right, that life would be okay all the time like fortune cookies and their printed wisdom, that my clogging lungs would always be a problem, filling upside with fluids and other stuff. The fact that I could never blame it on a curse.
Because I swear the radio had been a little sun-kissed that morning and it said some good news about some recovery story or something. It wouldn’t be my recovery story, but it would mean something. Because the kite was flying, though a strand was missing on the side, and I wanted to rub my back on the grass and lie there, for a while.
So I did, under what is a full moon at the moment. My time is coming soon. Not yet, but soon. I feel like dancing, under the full moon, but I choose to stay on the cool grass. Leave the bravery for mother, the craziness of curses for grandma and grandpop, the parables and pink tutus for myself.
I never understood why the crumpled papers always skittered around in a weird sort of circle under my desk. But I taped them to my walls today and wrote something like a will.
Honestly, I’m not going to miss living, but I may miss parts of it.
The walls look a lot like they’re painted now, with all those colored pen-marks dotting them, and all that Duct Tape.
I think I like that.